By Kyle Rogers, DS Power Training
I was watching the Radford and Auburn game with my buddy who went to Radford and is now an infielder in the Baltimore Orioles organization and one of the Radford base-runners got a good dirt ball read and took second base and my friend and I looked at each other and said, “Man I miss college baseball.”
It was so funny to me how something so small such as a good dirt ball read could bring back so many emotions and make me miss being a college baseball player. I was a right-handed pitcher at a NCAA Division II school in North Carolina called Belmont Abbey. I had a pretty successful college career and probably could have continued playing in an independent league somewhere, but I was happy with the way my baseball career had gone so I decided to hang up my cleats and trade them in for some trainers and a fungo and I could not be happier with my decision.
The transition from playing to coaching isn’t always easy, but coaching will be the best thing I ever do in baseball. I always told my teammates, “I’m going to be a much better coach than I ever was a player.” The beautiful thing about coaching is that there is no limitation to how good you can be. As a player you have all of these limitations; they’re called genetics. I spent so much time in the weight room, showing up early to practice, staying late. But no matter what I did, I wasn’t going to throw 90+ and I was okay with that. As a coach, if one continues to learn and stay open to change and new ideas, they can become the greatest coach to ever coach.
One of the great things about coaching is that coaches are able to create their own style of coaching. They can take all of the characteristics they liked and learned from a variety of coaches they have had in their career and put them together in their own distinctive style. We all know what we like and what we don’t like, what works and doesn’t work for us, therefore it becomes easy for us to take those characteristics and put them to good use.
I believe the most important thing about coaching is bringing joy and passion to your players. As a player, if you know that your coach has your best interest in mind, you are going to love that coach and you are going to work hard for that coach. Anything in life that evokes passion is the best thing in the world, and it’s a coach’s responsibility to ignite that passion or keep that passion going.
The hardest aspect of transitioning from a player to a coach is the feeling that we can still play at a high level. Whether we are at practice, a workout, or sitting in the dugout on a warm July day, these withdrawals start to occur and we start to want to be the ones training or be the ones on the mound in a high pressure situation in a tie game. I’m sure that feeling will go away at some point, but fresh out of college baseball and that field of competition, you want to be in there, that’s what you lived for the past however many years.
Another difficult part of being a coach is that the game of baseball becomes a million times simpler once you stop playing and look at it from the outside looking in. We constantly get frustrated with our players for being unable to make an adjustment or understand what we are trying to say. It’s so easy to forget how complicated it was for us as players that we become less empathetic with the players when they make mistakes.
Coaching means looking at your player and doing what's best for him after you've learned all you can about them. It’s as simple as that. Don’t ever let the game become about you as a coach. Keep your players best interest in mind and show them that you genuinely care about their well-being and I guarantee they will respond far better than anything else. If you have passion for the game of baseball, share that passion, ignite someone else passion, but don’t ever extinguish someone’s passion.